When it comes to fat it is often a confusing topic because generally speaking we’re told to steer clear of it, right?
But fat is not all bad, in fact we need it for many important processes in the body. And despite commonly held assumptions, excess sugar and carbohydrate are going to make you put on more weight than healthy fats will. But we’ll leave that story until another time 🙂
For now let’s dig in and learn a bit about fats, what they are, what they do, and which ones are good for us to eat.
Guide to Healthy Fats
One thing we all know about fat is that we all think we have too much of the stuff, right?
But fat does perform important functions in the body and is also a source of energy and helps to cushion our organs. It also provides structure to our body, cheeks, butt, etc.
Fats are in all of our cell membranes aiding fat soluble substances like vitamins and hormones to easliy transport in and out of cells.
Forms of fat in the body
Fats come in three forms, triglycerides, phospholipids and sterols.
Sterols are the type of fat cholesterol is. Sterols are important for production and formation of:
- *Bile acids
- *Sex hormones
- *Adrenal hormones
- *Vitamin D
- *And cholesterol itself
So cholesterol really isn’t bad because without it we simply couldn’t function.
The most abundant type of fat found in the body are trigycerides. Triglycerides are also our chief form of stored fat. Glycerol forms the backbone of triglycerides and has 3 fatty acids attached. This is important to understand because glycerol is produced from carbohydrate.
People often think that fat makes you fat, and certainly it can when we eat too much of it. But the biggest problem for most people is excess carbohydrate and sugar consumption. Essentially, this provides the glycerol backbones for more and more fat cells to be created.
If you want to lose weight, start with the sugar first and see how fast your results will come!
Phospholipids help to form the cell membranes throughout our body and in the other fats to move easily in and out of cells. This is necessary because fats are insoluble but with the aid of phospholipids they become more soluble so vitamins and hormones can enter the cells to do their job. The phospholipids also do the same throughout the blood, enabling the fats to stay suspended in the body fluid.
Let’s just spell out the easy stuff first.
When it comes to fats, there are only 2 essential fats that the body needs. They are Omega 3 and Omega 6. An essential fat means that your body can’t produce it naturally so you need to eat food in order to get enough of it.
Most people consume way too many Omega 6 fats in the form of vegetable oils and in foods such as conventional meats, grain based products, processed foods and junk. The balance of Omega 6 and 3 is important because Omega 6 are pro-inflammatory and Omega 3s are anti-inflammatory. They also compete for the same enzyme that helps to process them for use, and if Omega 6 is dominant it will continue to win hands down.
So one of the biggest recommendations for fats is to increase your intake of Omega 3 and reduce some of your Omega 6 intake. We’ll go into that in just a moment.
The other fat that has been found to have health benefits is coconut oil. Although it is considered a saturated fat, it is a small-medium chain fatty acid (SMFA) and these have been undergoing more and more research and showing positive association for health. This includes helping to aid fat burning, reduce obesity, increase telomere length which decreases the rate of aging, improve brain function and much more. Butter is also a SMFA, along with other dairy products.
Healthy Fats To Eat
On top of the fats list to use on a regular basis:
These are all Omega 3 and SMFA sources of fat that have beneficial effect on health.
Coconut oil and butter are best for cooking at high heat. Olive oil, sesame or macadamia nut oil can be used for cooking over a low-mild heat or for mild heat sautéing. All other oils should be used cold for in salad dressings, mayonnaise and that sort of thing.
Fats & Oils to Avoid
I know that many health messages commonly say to eat unsaturated fats and they even promote oils such as canola oil as being healthy. But this is far from the truth. Most of the oils listed below are high in Omega 6 (the pro-inflammatory oil), they are highly processed, and they are unhealthy.
Avoid these fats and oils:
~Rice bran oil
In general if you find it in a plastic clear bottle on the supermarket shelf, it is probably a processed oil. If you’d like to know how they process and what they do to the oil to bring it to you on the shelf, read this article about canola oil. They do the same to vegetable oils too.
When it comes to healthy fats, that’s as complicated as it needs to get. Choose the good fats, avoid the bad ones.
But we will cover the topic of saturated fats, cholesterol and other fats in more detail in future posts so be sure to subcribe here for future updates.
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